The first Brakhage Center Symposium took place in April, 2005 and has since become a nationally recognized forum on contemporary experimental film and media. The 2-day event in March has featured screenings, presentations, and panel discussions by top-notch filmmakers, scholars, critics and curators such as Ken Jacobs, Michael Snow, Guy Maddin, Ben Rivers, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Kathy Geritz, Annette Michaelson, Sally Berger, Ed Halter, Bill Nichols, Michael McElhatten, Steve Seid, Chris Stults and Scott MacDonald. It is free and open to the public. 

Here is what some of the Symposium participants have said about their experience:

“The Brakhage Symposium was one of the highlights in my USA trip in 2012. I was thankful to be able to see wonderful works and people. It was an inspiration that I badly needed.”

-Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Filmmaker and recipient of the Palme d'Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival

“The dialogue with the audience was informative, challenging, and an opportunity to critically re-enter my previously made films. Equally important is the wide variety of films and lectures presented during that session and the lingering presence they continue to have on my work, teaching, and curatorial activities.”

-Abraham Ravett, Professor and Filmmaker, Hampshire College

“This was a great experience for me as both a filmmaker and as an audience member. The theatre was full of an extremely attentive and intelligent audience, made up of academics, curators, film makers and film lovers – which promoted much lively discussion and feedback. This is invaluable as an artist travelling with their wares, to speak with an audience and get a sense of what the work does outside of the relatively solitary act of making.”

-Ben Rivers, Filmmaker

“I was impressed with the high quality of the projection of both 16mm and digital work, by the energy and enthusiasm of the considerable audiences that showed up for a series of challenging programs, and by the community spirit that was in evidence during and after screenings and during gatherings of guests of the symposium and attendees.”

-Scott MacDonald, Academy Scholar and Professor, Hamilton College

“This event gathers together filmmakers, scholars and archivists, young and old, all dedicated to keeping alive the experimental challenge of motion pictures. The Symposium has premiered new works and rediscovered old ones, generating historical perspectives, prophetic proclamations, scholarly debates and personal reminiscences. Friends, colleagues and contemporaries of Brakhage here pass on the energy of his work to a younger generation of artists, students and scholars. This confluence of memories and expectations sustain a tradition of visionary and passionate engagement with the art of the moving image. It is one of the most vivid, vital and invigorating occasions I know of, and I am proud to have been part of it on several occasions, both as presenter and spectator.”

-Tom Gunning, Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergman Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago